Archive for the ‘Piers Morgan’ Category

A SLICKER FULL OF LIES

November 4, 2015

PIERS_MORGAN_part_5-1

THE CLOSEST Piers Morgan has come to standing in the dock was in 2000.

He was editor of the Daily Mirror.

The government launched an investigation after he made huge profits from shares tipped by the paper.

Two of his journalists were sacked and later convicted of manipulating the stock market.

One of them went to gaol.

Piers Morgan was not charged.

An internal inquiry by Mirror owners Trinity Mirror cleared him of any “impropriety or wrong-doing”.

The Press Complaints Commission “severely censured” Morgan.

But Mirror directors suppressed key material.

This corporate cover-up continues to this day.

It involves the paper instructing lawyers to deliberately mislead the Leveson Inquiry.

This is the first time the full story has been told … 

♦♦♦

FOR PIERS MORGAN the nightmare began one evening in February 2000. 

It was Tuesday, February 1.

That day he’d had a secret meeting with Arsenal Football Club about becoming the club’s managing director.

“But they couldn’t afford me,” he said.

This was followed by management meetings. 

He arrived back at his 22nd floor office in Canary Wharf at 7pm.

His secretary Kerrie Buckley told him the Daily Telegraph had left a message.

Business reporter Suzy Jagger had a question for Morgan:

“Did you buy shares in Viglen Technology through Kyte Securities on 17 January?”

In his 2005 memoirs, The Insider, Morgan remembers: 

“I froze to the spot”. 

He had indeed bought shares in Viglen — a company owned by Amstrad boss Alan Sugar — on that day.

It was also the day the Daily Mirror business column, City Slickers, were preparing an exclusive story about Viglen starting an internet business. 

The article made the company its tip of the day: 

“We expect the price, which closed last night at 180p, to double in a very short time,” it said.

“Get in quick for the pay-day of a lifetime.” 

The next day, 18 January 2000, the shares doubled in value — from 180 pence to 366 pence. 

TIPPING POINT THE INFAMOUS column of 17 January 2000 sparked a scandal for the Daily Mirror that remains a toxic legacy of Piers Morgan’s editorship. City Slickers was the brainchild of Piers Morgan and former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie who was a Mirror executive. Launched in May 1998 with a “ cheeky irreverent style”, it was soon riding the dotcom boom of the late 1990s. The share price of the column’s top ten tips for 1999 rose by 142 per cent.

TIPPING POINT
THE INFAMOUS column of 17 January 2000 sparked a scandal for the Daily Mirror that remains a toxic legacy of Piers Morgan’s editorship. City Slickers was the brainchild of Piers Morgan and Mirror executive — and former Sun editor — Kelvin MacKenzie. Launched in May 1998 with a “ cheeky irreverent style”, it was soon riding the dotcom boom of the late 1990s. The share price of the column’s top ten tips for 1999 rose by 142 per cent.

His secretary asked if he was OK.

“Well, I’m not sure, to be honest,” Morgan told her. 

“I bought some bloody shares a few weeks ago, and I think it’s about to crash around my ears.”

Morgan rang Jagger back and admitted he’d bought some shares. 

“Better to be open and up front in situations like these,” he wrote.

He also “called the Mirror lawyers and talked them through it all.” 

At 11pm that evening he saw the first editions of the Daily Telegraph which carried his admission that he’d bought £20,000 worth of Viglen shares.

Morgan was relieved: 

“… there was just a small, balanced story on a left-hand inside page.”

“I wasn’t too worried when I saw it: if they’d really thought I’d done something awful, it would have been on the front.”

But the Sun also saw the Telegraph piece.

It changed its later editions, putting the story on the front page  — and carried an editorial calling for Morgan’s resignation.

The next day directors of Trinity Mirror, owners of the Daily Mirror, were getting involved.

They called Morgan down to the executive offices on the 20th floor of the Canary Wharf tower block. 

He told John Allwod, deputy chief executive, he had no idea the City Slickers were going to tip the company.

Morgan said he’d only bought a small number of shares tipped by the City Slickers.

In all, he’d only bought shares on about twenty occasions: 

“ … and made hardly any money on anything”. 

The law firm Lovells were brought in to help the board with its investigation. 

Emails between Piers Morgan, his broker and the City Slickers were examined. 

Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell, the two journalists who wrote the City Slickers column, were questioned.

They said Piers Morgan didn’t know about the Viglen article. 

The investigation took just two days.

On February 4 Trinity Mirror issued a statement to the Stock Exchange saying that an internal investigation had taken place.

“The findings of this inquiry … supported by the group’s solicitors Lovells … show there are no grounds for any accusations of any impropriety or wrong-doing by Piers Morgan.” 

Morgan sold his shares and donated the profits to charity. 

♦♦♦

BUT THE crisis wouldn’t go away.

The Department of Trade & Industry announced an investigation and the Press Complaints Commission launched an inquiry.

On February 17, a month after the Viglen article was published, the City Slickers Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell were sacked for gross misconduct.

“A decision I was not allowed to take any part in,” Morgan later wrote, “but everyone will think I did to save my own scrawny neck”.

“I can sense a certain frostiness among some of the staff, and there are even rumours that some senior journalists are planning a vote of no confidence in me”.

MORGAN THE SLICKER PIERS MORGAN was a greedy editor. On one occasion he emailed Bhoyrul to congratulate him on a piece about a major City figure getting involved in Formula One motor racing. “

MORGAN THE SLICKER
PIERS MORGAN was an avid follower of the City Slickers. On one occasion he emailed Anil Bhoyrul to say “I need some ideas for my general Pep, which is bursting with profit from NXT [a share tipped by the column]. Got any good longer term suggestions for this year?” He also emailed Bhoyrul to congratulate him on a piece about a major City figure getting involved in Formula One motor racing. “”Great story. Does this mean free tickets to the grand prix all round?” Bhoyrul replied: “I already have free tickets to all grand prix.” Morgan replied: “You did, Anil, you did .”
Photo: PA

There was no rebellion.

But the strain was affecting Morgan.

At the Press Gazette awards in March 2000 he got drunk and lost his temper with the team from the Sun.

“Then one of the Sun lot, quite understandably, threw a punch at me, which missed, and all hell broke out — with journalists from the Mirror and the Sun trading shoves, slaps, kicks and abuse.”

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) completed its investigation in May 2000.

Unusually, its rules about financial reporting are more stringent than the criminal law.

Clause 14 of its Editors’ Code of Practice was clear:

“ … although it may not be illegal for journalists to buy shares about which they have recently written or are about to write, such purchases are forbidden by the Code.”

It heard from the senior of the two City Slickers, Anil Bhoyrul.

Bhoyrul had originally told the Trinity Mirror inquiry he had not informed Piers Morgan that the column was about to tip Viglen on January 17.

Now he changed his version of events.

He claimed he’d informed Morgan of the piece on the morning of January 17— and said Morgan later told him he’d purchased shares in the company.

Bhoyrul also confirmed he’d bought shares on at least six occasions which the column had tipped.

James Hipwell admitting 25 such purchases.

Morgan insisted his purchase of the Viglen shares was coincidental — he bought them several hours before the article tipping the company was written.

He didn’t tell the City Slickers he’d bought them.

There was, he said, a general buzz about the company and it was one of the City Slickers’ top ten tips for 2000.

There had been job adverts which indicated that an internet division was being planned.

A relative — a wealthy and apparently successful private investor — thought it a good company.

In an attempt to distance himself from the column, Morgan also claimed he’d had concerns about journalist James Hipwell.

He said he’d been tipped off that the journalist was “being investigated in respect of share dealings”.

Morgan claimed he discussed this with Bhoyrul in June 1999 and personally warned Hipwell not to buy shares in companies the column was tipping.

Bhoyrul and Hipwell denied Morgan had talked to them about this.

No evidence has ever emerged to back up Morgan’s assertion.

In May 2000 the Press Complaints Commission announced its findings.

It issued a “critical adjudication” which “severely censured” Piers Morgan and the City Slickers.

This was the most serious judgment it could make.

(It was the second time Piers Morgan had been censured — the first was in 1995 when he was editor of the News of the World.

See the Press Gang article Whodunnit? for more details.)

The Commission found Morgan had breached Clause 14.

He had bought shares in Viglen and another company.

The PCC did not consider it necessary to decide if he had known the Viglen shares were going to be tipped.

As editor, Morgan had also allowed the City Slickers to engage in “flagrant, multiple breaches of the code over a sustained period of time.”

Morgan had therefore “fallen short of the high professional standards demanded by the code”.

PCC chairman, Lord Wakeham, said there was a “clear climate of slack” at the paper.

The watchdog referred the matter to Philip Graf, Trinity Mirror’s chief executive, “in view of the unsatisfactory state of affairs revealed by this episode.”

According to the PCC, Trinity Mirror issued a “severe reprimand” to Morgan and a “written warning” about his management of the paper.

The PCC congratulated itself:

“This is an example of where the provisions of a tough industry Code are more onerous than the law and an example of the strength of effective self-regulation.”

There were no financial penalties, however.

Naturally, the Sun made the most of the ruling — its editorial verdict on Morgan:

“A lying spiv.”

♦♦♦

SIX MONTHS after the Commission’s ruling, the scandal erupted again. 

On 12 November 2000 the newspaper Sunday Business (it closed in 2006) published emails exchanged between Morgan and Bhoyrul.

The emails — also highlighted in other papers — had been deleted.

But inspectors from the Department of Trade & Industry were able to recover them from Trinity Mirror’s central servers.

One was sent by Morgan to Bhoyrul at 4.33pm on the afternoon of 17 January 2000 — the day he bought the Viglen shares.

KILLER EMAIL THE EXPLOSIVE Sunday Business article which gave the lie to Morgan’s claim that he had not told the City Slickers he’d bought shares in Viglen. The paper obtained an email from a source in the Department of Trade and Industry which was investigating Morgan. It showed Morgan discussing Viglen with one of the City Slickers before the paper went to press — and suggested he had also talked about the company before he bought shares …

KILLER EMAIL
THE EXPLOSIVE Sunday Business front page article which gave the lie to Morgan’s claim that he had not told the City Slickers he’d bought shares in Viglen. The paper obtained an email from a source in the Department of Trade and Industry which was investigating Morgan. It suggested Morgan discussed Viglen with one of the City Slickers before the article went to press …

Earlier that day, Bhoyrul claimed he’d urged Morgan to sell shares he held in a company called Pace Micro Technology — and invest the proceeds in Viglen.

He said Morgan told him he would buy into Viglen but keep the Pace shares.

After seeing the Pace shares rise, Bhoyrul said he e-mailed Morgan congratulating him on his decision to keep his stake.

Morgan sent a message back — at 4.33pm on the day he bought the shares — saying that he’d sold the Pace shares after all.

This crucial 10 word message reads:

“I sold them this morning for bloody Viglen. Congratulations halfwit.”

Bhoyrul told Sunday Business:

“I said I had an e-mail from Piers about Viglen that day, but it disappeared when I tried to recover it after I was sacked.”

“If it’s turned up, that’s very serious as the Mirror accused me of lying about it.”

Bhoyrul added:

“The Press Complaints Commission may have to look at this again.”

PCC director Guy Black played down the possibility of any new inquiry on the basis of the emails.

He said the Press Complaints Commission had never needed to consider the e-mails between Morgan and Bhoyrul as it was already clear the code had been breached.

“We haven’t been given any of this new evidence yet but a breach of the code is a breach of the code,” he said.

“The Commission found him guilty in the first place.”

“The existence of e-mails may add icing to the cake but it unlikely to change our decision.”

A Trinity Mirror spokesman claimed that the company had known about the e-mails for some time.

“We had a full investigation and nothing new has come to light that leads us to change our minds,” he said.

The PCC did not re-open the investigation.

At the time Morgan declined to comment.

When one reporter rang him, Morgan said “goodbye, mate” and hung up.

By the end of 2000, it was clear Morgan had weathered the storm.

In April 2001 he signed a new contract — and became editor in chief of the Sunday Mirror as well as the Daily Mirror.

♦♦♦

IT TOOK the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) four years to complete its investigation.

It investigated Morgan because it suspected insider trading.

Insider trading is when employees of companies leak confidential information to outsiders so that shares can be bought before the price goes up.

Viglen was one of the companies investigated.

The shares had doubled as soon as the City Slickers tipped them.

It would later emerge that the Financial Services Authority had — secretly — censured Viglen for not declaring its intention to launch an internet “without delay”.

The rules of the Stock Exchange say price sensitive information should be announced via its own news service.

DTI inspectors interviewed Piers Morgan on several occasions but, in the end, could find no evidence of insider trading either in Viglen or any of the other shares he had bought.

It decided not to prosecute.

City Slickers Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell were charged along with a private investor with another offence — market manipulation under the Financial Services Act.

They had

“conspired to create a misleading impression as to the value of investments for the purpose of creating the impression and thereby inducing other persons to acquire those investments, by using the City Slickers column in the Daily Mirror to tip those investments.”

The prosecution case was that they operated a “first buy, then tip, then sell” policy.

Many of the shares they made a killing on subsequently dropped in value — thus cheating ordinary investors who’d followed the tips.

Ironically, the Viglen investments were not part of the prosecution.

Bhoyrul pleaded guilty — but Hipwell and the investor decided to fight the case.

JAMES HIPWELL THE CITY SLICKER'S decision to plead not guilty led to most of the story finally seeing the light of day. By the time he was sentenced to six months in gaol, he’d had a kidney transplant. Photo: PA

JAMES HIPWELL
THE CITY SLICKER’S decision to plead not guilty led to most of the story finally seeing the light of day. By the time he was sentenced to six months in gaol, he’d had a kidney transplant.
Photo: PA

It was this decision that, finally, brought a fuller version of the scandal into the open.

The trial started at Southwark Crown Court in London in October 2005.

(By then Piers Morgan was no longer Mirror editor.

He’d been sacked in May 2004 after he published photos of British soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq which turned out to be fakes.)

The prosecution said Hipwell made a profit of £41,000 buying and selling shares that were tipped between August 1999 and February 2000.

Bhoyrul made £15,000 in the same period.

Hipwell said he made no secret of his trading and bought shares in his own name.

In the witness box, he said Piers Morgan told him:

“ … if we were in the business of tipping shares he was happy for us to trade and even used the analogy along the lines of you would not learn to drive a car from somebody who had never been in a car.”

To back up his version of events, the defence was to make a series of sensational revelations.

The thrust of these was that there had been a deliberate cover-up by Morgan and directors of Trinity Mirror.

♦♦♦

THE FIRST bombshell was that Morgan and Trinity Mirror had not been telling the truth about the extent of Morgan’s dealing in Viglen shares. 

For nearly five years it was believed Morgan had only bought £20,000 worth of shares.

In fact, the figure was more than three times greater — £67,000.

Morgan had said that he bought the shares on a whim.

In fact, he spent a considerable amount of time and effort in acquiring the shares on 17 January 2000.

Hipwell’s barrister spelt it out:

12.33pm
Morgan arranges for the purchase of 6,884 Viglen shares worth £12,805 through his then wife Marion’s tax-free private equity plan (PEP).

12.45pm
Twelve minutes later, Morgan uses his own PEP to buy a further 19,632 shares worth £36,074.

3.28pm
Morgan rings his broker Antony Laiker at stockbrokers Kyte Securities and buys a final block of 10,000 shares worth £18,275.

This is nine minutes after the Mirror’s editorial computer records Anil Bhoyrul filing the Viglen piece — at 3.19pm.

Morgan’s final purchase is made through a nominee account, a legal device which hides the identity of the purchaser.

It is this last purchase which generates the original tip-off — probably from someone inside Kyte Securities — that Morgan had bought £20,000 worth of shares in the company.

Reporters in court were shocked by this revelation.

It was quickly followed by another.

It was revealed that other journalists had also bought shares in Viglen on the same day: business editor Clinton Manning, news editor David Leigh and reporter Ian Miller.

And other senior figures had bought other shares later tipped by the City Slickers.

They included deputy editor Tina Weaver and the paper’s lawyer Martin Cruddace.

Cruddace is a close friend of Piers Morgan.

In 2010, Morgan wrote of Cruddace:

“A finer, more loyal, trusted colleague and friend it would be impossible to find.”

GAMBLING MAN MARTIN CRUDDACE, the Daily Mirror’s legal manager during the City Slickers scandal, is one of Piers Morgan’s closest friends. In 1999 he organised a syndicate with Piers Morgan and James Hipwell to buy stakes in a racehorse called Ledham. When Morgan was kicked out by his wife in 2000 — after he started an affair with Sun journalist Marina Hyde — Cruddace put him up in his London flat. Cruddace left the Mirror in 2002 and has worked in the gambling industry ever since. Photo: Betfair

GAMBLING MAN
MARTIN CRUDDACE, the Daily Mirror legal manager during the City Slickers scandal, is one of Piers Morgan’s best friends. In 1999 he organised a syndicate with Piers Morgan and James Hipwell to buy a racehorse called Ledham. When Morgan was kicked out by his wife in 2000 — after he started an affair with Sun journalist Marina Hyde — Cruddace put him up in his London flat. Cruddace left the Mirror in 2002 and has worked in the gambling industry ever since.
Photo: Betfair

It was the lawyer’s job to advise Morgan about libel and the Press Complaints Commission’s Editors’ Code.

He also took a close interest in the City Slickers column after the industrialist Victor Kiam sued the Mirror in 1999.

Kiam was later awarded more than £100,000 in damages.

Cruddace also invested £6,500 in several companies — but not Viglen — before they were tipped by the City Slickers.

His mother, his girlfriend and her father also bought shares in some of these firms.

Cruddace told the jury he “regretted” the purchases but insisted it was a “coincidence” they were later tipped by the Slickers.

In his evidence Hipwell claimed he’d asked Cruddace if the column should carry a warning that the City Slickers held shares in some of the companies they were tipping.

He says Cruddace told him it wasn’t appropriate.

Cruddace said he couldn’t remember the conversation but accepted it might have taken place.

At the trial Hipwell also alleged that Cruddace — and deputy editor Tina Weaver — put pressure on him to protect Morgan.

Both denied this allegation.

The jury also heard the transcript of a phone call between Anil Bhoyrul and his broker Richard Grossman of stockbrokers Redmayne Bentley.

Grossman also acted for Hipwell.

Bhoyrul was concerned about buying shares that he and Hipwell were tipping.

“We have been sort of been asking our people at the Mirror …”, he said, “When we tip something, if we have shares in something, is it a problem?”

Grossman replied:

“It’s all to do with something called morality …”

“As far as the law is concerned, I am very surprised your company doesn’t have rules on it.”

Grossman admitted he and other Redmayne Bentley employees also bought shares tipped by the City Slickers but denied the purchases were influenced by the column.

Once again, it was just coincidence …

♦♦♦

THERE WAS another dramatic development when a statement from public relations man Nick Hewer was read out.

Hewer — later to become famous as one of Alan Sugar’s advisers on the television programme The Apprentice — represented Viglen in 2000.

Hewer said that on the day Morgan bought his shares Bhoyrul rang him for a quote for the Viglen story.

After the storm broke in February, he rang him again.

Hewer said Bhoyrul:

“explained that Piers was in trouble and that we needed to help him.”

Hewer was asked to tell the law firm Lovells, who were helping Trinity Mirror executives with their investigation, that the call from Bhoyrul on January 17 came much later than it actually had.

This would show that Bhoyrul wrote the Viglen article late on January 17 — long after Morgan bought his last batch of shares in the company.

“I explained I was unable to help as all the facts were locked in a letter to the Stock Exchange from Viglen,” Hewer wrote.

“This suggestion placed me in a difficult position …”

“My living was to deal with these people and I again explained I could not be pressured into saying anything.”

The statement also revealed that Hewer subsequently spoke personally to Piers Morgan.

They discussed the timing of Bhoyrul’s phone call and Morgan suggested it would be “helpful if the time of the clearance quote could be pushed back from the time it was actually made.”

Hewer told Morgan he was not prepared to lie — but agreed to say the call was made “late in the afternoon”.

(Morgan denies this allegation.

He told Press Gazette after the trial that it was “absolutely cock and bull rubbish”.

“I never asked Nick Hewer to lie.”)

Solicitor Graham Livingston, who carried out the Lovells inquiry into the scandal on behalf of Trinity Mirror, was questioned about Hewer’s testimony when he gave evidence.

He was asked if he would have cleared Morgan of “impropriety or wrong-doing” if he’d known that Hewer had been asked to lie.

Livingston said he would not.

TWO FACED? PIERS MORGAN says Nick Hewer — now the presenter of Channel 4’s Countdown programme — is lying when he claims the former Mirror editor asked him to lie on his behalf ... Photo: PA

TWO FACED?
PIERS MORGAN says Nick Hewer — now the presenter of Channel 4’s Countdown programme — is lying when he claims the former Mirror editor asked him to lie on his behalf …
Photo: PA

It was during the trial that the fact that the Financial Services Authority had censured Viglen for not declaring its decision to launch an internet site “without delay” was revealed.

The criticism had never been made public.

Hipwell’s defence was that he was open about his share dealing — and only did so because Piers Morgan and other senior reporters and executives were also doing it.

The jury wasn’t impressed — and he and the private investor were convicted.

He was sentenced to six months in prison.

Mr Justice Beatson said the sentence would have been longer had Hipwell not been suffering from kidney failure.

And he added:

“There was no guidance from your superiors or from in-house lawyers, and there was evidence of a culture of advance information about tips — and share dealing in the office.”

“I also take into account the fact there was no formal code of conduct for journalists at the Daily Mirror.”

The private investor was gaoled for three months.

Anil Bhoyrul, who admitted the offence, was ordered to serve 180 hours of community service.

♦♦♦

THE TRIAL was an eye-opener for Roy Greenslade, former Mirror editor turned media commentator.

He felt the Press Complaints Commission had been conned by Piers Morgan and Trinity Mirror back in 2000 into believing he’d only purchased £20,000 worth of Viglen shares.

Greenslade believed several Trinity Mirror executives had conspired to give false evidence to the Commission.

Morgan, he thought, would have found it difficult to survive as Mirror editor if the true scale of his dealings in Viglen had been known.

He asked the Commission to reinvestigate.

ROY GREENSLADE THE MEDIA commentator — and a former Daily Mirror editor — was shocked by the revelations which emerged during the City Slickers trial in 2005. He believed Piers Morgan and the Mirror had deliberately deceived the Press Complaints Commission back in 2000. Photo: Roy Greenslade

ROY GREENSLADE
THE MEDIA commentator — and former Daily Mirror editor — was shocked by the revelations which emerged during the City Slickers trial in 2005. He believed Piers Morgan and Mirror directors had deliberately deceived the Press Complaints Commission back in 2000.
Photo: Roy Greenslade

The PCC asked Trinity Mirror to explain why it had suppressed the full value of Morgan’s Viglen purchases.

The PCC reported that the company

“told the Commission it almost became a touchstone of the veracity of Messrs Bhoyrul and Hipwell as to whether they could show independent knowledge of the total of £67,000.”

Directors decided to hold back the total amount involved.

As a result, it had sent the Commission an edited version of the report prepared by the law firm Lovells.

The Commission “considered the logic” behind the company’s strategy “weak”:

“… it was a matter of regret” that the company had “for whatever reason — submitted a partial account of Mr Morgan’s share dealings to the Commission which had the effect of misleading it.”

The Commission also criticised the company for not issuing a statement after the trial explaining why it had suppressed the true amount of Morgan’s Viglen holdings.

But it had “not found evidence to suggest that directors … had conspired to present untruthful evidence to … protect Mr Morgan and to minimise the Commission’s criticisms.”

Roy Greenslade told Press Gang he was convinced the Commission — had it known the full facts — would have issued “an even harsher judgment than it did”:

“In the PCC’s previous verdict against Morgan, over a breach of the Code when he was editor of the News of the World, the chairman had prevailed on the paper’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, to admonish him in public.”

“The PCC could have done that over the Viglen affair too and that would have placed the Trinity Mirror board under pressure to fire him.”

He was certain Trinity Mirror management had been

“… complicit in allowing Morgan to escape the appropriate PCC censure.”

One key fact was left out of the Commission’s consideration — the “killer email” Morgan sent to Bhoyrul at 4.33pm on the day he bought his shares.

♦♦♦

IT TOOK five years before the inside story of the City Slickers scandal finally saw the light of day.

But Trinity Mirror continues to deny key elements of it to this day.

David Seymour — political editor of the Mirror newspapers from 1993 to 2007 — made a statement to the Leveson Inquiry in 2012.

He said he had openly expressed concern about the City Slickers long before the scandal broke.

Of the Viglen affair he wrote:

“There was, in my view, a ‘killer email’ showing conclusively that the editor knew what was going on.”

This is a reference to the 4.33pm email Piers Morgan sent Anil Bhoyrul on 17 January 2000.

Trinity Mirror instructed the law firm Herbert Smith to contest this allegation.

In a letter to the Inquiry, Herbert Smith stated:

“Mr Seymour’s allegation … that there was a ’killer email showing conclusively’ that former editor of the Daily Mirror Piers Morgan ’knew what was going on’ in respect of the City Slickers matter, is wrong.”

KILLER EMAIL v URBAN MYTH THIS IS the email David Seymour believed proved Piers Morgan knew the City Slickers were going to tip the Viglen shares. It was published in the Sunday Business in November 2000. Trinity Mirror say it's an

KILLER EMAIL v URBAN MYTH
THE EMAIL former Mirror political editor David Seymour believes proved Piers Morgan knew the City Slickers were going to tip the Viglen shares was reproduced in the Sunday Business in November 2000. Trinity Mirror told the Leveson Inquiry the email was an “urban myth” …

“Trinity Mirror informs us that the existence of such an email was an ’urban myth’ during the City Slickers saga.”

“No such email was ever found despite a thorough investigation by the DTI — which included … the seizure of a number of personal computer hard drives including those of Messrs Morgan, Hipwell and Bhoyrul.”

This article has already shown that this ‘killer email’ — the 4.33pm  email Morgan sent to Anil Bhoyrul on the day of his Viglen share purchases — had been revealed in November 2000.

When Seymour wrote to the Inquiry to give further evidence about the email, he was told that there wasn’t time to add new material…

We asked Trinity Mirror for a comment.

Company secretary Jeremy Rhodes said:

“The contents of your email are noted.”

♦♦♦ 

ONE INTRIGUING question emerges out of this Press Gang investigation.

In 2000 Piers Morgan said he had sold his shares in Viglen — and donated the profits to charity.

MORALLY DEFUNCT AFTER THE trial of the City Slickers in 2005, Piers Morgan told the Independent on Sunday: “I fully accept that I’m a morally defunct human being.” At the height of the scandal, in 2000, he told actress Kate Winslet “ … you don’t get to be the editor of the Daily Mirror without being a fairly despicable human being.” Photo: PA

MORALLY DEFUNCT
AFTER THE trial of the City Slickers in 2005, Piers Morgan told the Independent on Sunday: “I fully accept that I’m a morally defunct human being.” At the height of the scandal, in 2000, he also told actress Kate Winslet — in a conversation about her unlisted telephone number — “ … you don’t get to be the editor of the Daily Mirror without being a fairly despicable human being.”
Photo: PA

At that time, he was only admitting to owning £20,000 worth of shares.

But he and his wife actually owned £67,000 worth.

So did he donate just the profits from the £20,000 block — or did it also include the proceeds of the entire £67,000 investment?

We put this to Piers Morgan this morning.

There was no answer by the time this piece was published.

♦♦♦

NOTE
This is the fifth instalment of the series A Pretty Despicable Man.
Already published are
Dial M For Morgan
Down In The Gutter
Assault On The Bank Of England
Whodunnit?
Click on a title to read the article.

♦♦♦
© Press Gang
Published: 4 November 2015
♦♦♦

COMING UP 
THE MIRROR: CRACK’D FROM SIDE TO SIDE
WHEN THE Daily Mirror started recruiting former Murdoch journalists — like Piers Morgan — it committed itself to the use of the “dark arts” as a way of competing with the Sun. The full extent of the moral corruption of one of Britain’s greatest newspapers is only just beginning to emerge. And yet an ostrich-like management continues to deny the full extent of the catastrophe. Part Six of A Pretty Despicable Man says it’s time the company cleaned out the stables once and for all … 

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DIAL M FOR MORGAN

June 29, 2015

PIERS_MORGAN_part_4

FOR THE last four years Piers Morgan has been desperately trying to distance himself from the phone hacking scandal.

Twice he’s been interviewed under caution by detectives investigating phone hacking at the Daily Mirror when he was editor from 1995 to 2004.

Between 2001 and 2009 he made a series of incriminating statements widely interpreted as evidence he knew all about the practice.

Two of his protégés — Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks — have appeared in the dock at the Old Bailey.

Coulson went to gaol: Brooks was acquitted.

Morgan now insists he knew nothing:

“For the record … I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.”

But a Press Gang investigation reveals 

— as early as 1997, the Daily Mirror was paying for “confidential enquiries” about telephone numbers

— in 1998 the paper was openly hacking the mobile phones of senior politicians

— a year later it spent nearly £6,000 on illegally obtained print-outs of calls made on individual phones 

The evidence suggests the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering — including phone hacking — were at the heart of Daily Mirror editorial policy when Morgan was editor. 

♦♦♦

WHEN HE appeared on Desert Island Discs in 2009, Piers Morgan was challenged about phone hacking.

Presenter Kirsty Young asked him about dealing with people who listened to phone messages.

“People who tap people’s phones … how did you feel about that?”

Morgan didn’t deny the allegation:

“I’m quite happy … to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to …”

“I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do.”

But after the revelation in July 2011 that Rupert Murdoch’s journalists had hacked murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone, he changed his tune.

BUGGERS PIERS MORGAN and his friends Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson at the height of their power in 2004. Morgan edited the Mirror, Brooks The Sun and Coulson the News of the World. All three tabloids were hacking phones at that stage. Coulson and Brooks — long-term on-off lovers — were tried at the Old Bailey in 2014. Brooks was acquitted but Coulson was gaoled for 18 months. Picture: Richard Young / REX

BUGGERS
PIERS MORGAN and his friends Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson at the height of their power in the early 2000s. Morgan edited the Mirror, Brooks the Sun and Coulson the News of the World. All three tabloids were hacking phones at that stage. Coulson and Brooks — long-term on-off lovers — were tried at the Old Bailey in 2014; Brooks was acquitted but Coulson was gaoled for 18 months. Piers Morgan was by far the most experienced of the three: he had been Coulson’s boss at the Sun’s show business column in the early 1990s and gave Rebekah Brooks her first big promotion while he was editor of the News of the World
Picture: Richard Young / REX

When the American Daily Beast website resurrected his Desert Island Discs comments in 2011, Morgan insisted:

“For the record … I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.”

But, in fact, the Daily Mirror had printed an article based on phone hacking more than a decade earlier.

It was just as mobile phones were taking off — and Piers Morgan had been Daily Mirror editor for more than two years.

Early in 1998 one of the paper’s journalists in Dublin realised it was possible to access messages left on the mobile phones of senior Irish politicians.

Reporter Karl Brophy — based at the Irish Parliament — proceeded to listen to messages left on the phone of the Irish leader, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

He also successfully listened to messages left on the phones of other Cabinet ministers.

Brophy’s article — published as an “Exclusive” on Saturday, 18 April 1998 — went into great detail about how phone messages could be hacked:

“The phone tap can be operated by anyone who knows the number of the mobile phone they wish to listen in to.”

The article explained that mobile phones were sold with a standard password for stored messages that most people never changed.

“That means that anyone can listen in to another person’s messages by simply phoning into their electronic mailbox and dialling the digits 0000.”

CAPTION THE FRONT page story proving the Daily Mirror knew how to hack phones as early as April 1998. Reporter Karl Brophy provided a blueprint on how to listen to messages left on mobile phones. The article did not appear in mainland editions of the paper …

SMOKING GUN
THE FRONT page story proving Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror knew how to hack phones as early as April 1998. Reporter Karl Brophy provided a blueprint on how to listen to messages left on mobile phones. The article did not appear in mainland editions of the paper …

“Once they have done this the hacker has unlimited access to all the messages.”

The article was accompanied by an editorial.

This stated:

“If Richard Nixon had lived in Dublin he would have had no need for Watergate.”

“Instead of teams of bungling burglars all he would have needed was a mobile phone to tap into the thoughts of his political rivals.”

The piece continued:

“The Irish Mirror discovered this amazing security breach and chose not to keep it under wraps.”

“It is to be hoped the gap has been plugged before some unscrupulous eavesdropper has used it for sinister [purposes].”

There was to be no phone hacking scandal in Ireland. 

♦♦♦

NOT A word of the story appeared in the mainland editions of the Daily Mirror.

This was despite the fact that several million people of Irish descent live in Britain — thousands of them Daily Mirror readers.

And the implications of the story for the British political establishment were obvious.

If British mobile phones were anything like their Irish counterparts, there was a potential security problem.

There were also strong connections between the Irish edition and the paper’s headquarters in London’s Canary Wharf.

DOMINIC MOHAN THE SUN editor told Lord Leveson about the Irish Mirror phone hacking story in 2012. But the Inquiry team did not enter the article into evidence — and Piers Morgan was never questioned about it.

SNITCH
SUN EDITOR Dominic Mohan told Lord Leveson about the Irish Mirror story in 2012. But the Inquiry team failed to understand its significance and didn’t enter the article as evidence — Piers Morgan was never questioned about it.  Back in May 2002 Mohan was editor of the Sun’s “Bizarre” column when he sarcastically thanked Vodaphone’s lack of security for the success of Piers Morgan’s show business coverage in the Mirror Photo: PA

The man in charge of the Irish Mirror was Craig Mackenzie, brother of Kelvin Mackenzie, Mirror Group deputy chief executive.

Kelvin Mackenzie was editor of the Sun when Piers Morgan started on the paper in the late 1980s.

Both Mackenzie brothers were friends of Morgan’s. 

Press Gang spoke to Karl Brophy last week.

He said he wrote the story at a time when mobile phones were taking off.  

“When you got your phone in those days it clearly … told you to change your PIN immediately,” he said.

“The thing was that most older people didn’t bother.”

“So, one day, I just started phoning mobiles of politicians and seeing if they had changed their PINs.”  

“A lot hadn’t so I changed all the PINs of the ones who hadn’t to a single four digit number so nobody else could listen in.”

“I thought the fact that voice messages … of government ministers and advisers could be so easily accessed was rather serious – especially considering where we were in 1998 with the Peace Process …”

In fact, the historic Good Friday agreement had been signed a week earlier.

All the ministers Brophy hacked immediately changed their PIN numbers after he told the government what he’d done. 

♦♦♦

FIFTEEN MONTHS later the Daily Mirror in London were told about security problems with mobile phones.

Welsh sales manager Steven Nott rang the paper in August 1999 about a flaw in Vodaphone’s system.

He talked to Mirror special projects editor Oonagh Blackman. 

He told her that if people did not change the standard Vodaphone 3333 PIN number, anyone could dial in and listen to messages. 

Nott claims that, initially, Blackman was enthusiastic but after 12 days told him the paper wasn’t interested.

The paper later sent him a £100 cheque with a statement saying it was in relation to “mobile phone scandal.” 

Nott later told the Leveson Inquiry:

“I accused the Daily Mirror of keeping the phone hacking method for their own purposes.”

But, in addition to the Irish Mirror story, there’s evidence the paper’s journalists were already deeply involved in the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering, including phone hacking.

♦♦♦

CENTRAL TO this operation was senior reporter Gary Jones and his dealings with a corrupt firm of private detectives.

Jones had been News of the World crime reporter when Piers Morgan edited the Sunday tabloid in 1994-1995. 

Jones won the Press Gazette Reporter of the Year award in 1995 for his scoops.

One of the most dramatic was a story about anonymous calls being made by Princess Diana.

This was also one of the key stories in Piers Morgan’s career — it impressed Rupert Murdoch who liked big, international controversies.

Especially if it also involved an attack on the British establishment he despised.

GARY “DARK ARTS” JONES THE SENIOR Daily Mirror journalist was the paper’s mastermind when it came to illegal news-gathering. He’d been the News of the World’s crime reporter when Piers Morgan edited the Sunday paper in 1994-1995. Jones — who has featured in many Press Gang articles —  does not answer our emails.  

GARY “DARK ARTS” JONES
A KEY LIEUTENANT throughout Piers Morgan’s editorship, Jones was the Mirror mastermind when it came to illegal news-gathering. He’d been the News of the World crime reporter when Piers Morgan edited the Sunday paper in 1994-1995. Jones — who has featured in many Press Gang articles —  does not answer our emails.

This worldwide exclusive was based on a leaked investigation report from Scotland Yard.

Press Gang — in the article Whodunnit? — revealed Piers Morgan almost certainly authorised an enormous payment to a recently retired senior police officer for access to the report.

The sum is believed to have been in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Piers Morgan was appointed Daily Mirror editor in 1995 and Gary Jones joined him the following year.

Documentary evidence shows that by October 1997 Gary Jones was responsible for organising much of the paper’s clandestine operations.

Jones was using the controversial detective agency Southern Investigations to illegally access information. 

The agency had also been working for the News of the World from the late 1980s — including the period Piers Morgan was editor.

The firm was run by private eye Jonathan Rees.

Rees had been a suspect in the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan in 1987.

JONATHAN REES THE PRIVATE eye who provided the Daily Mirror with a hoard of confidential information. He stood trial for the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan but the trial collapsed in 2011.  A fuller account of his activities can be found in the Press Gang series The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency.  Photo: PA 

CORRUPT DETECTIVE
THE PRIVATE eye Jonathan Rees who provided the Daily Mirror with a hoard of confidential information, much of it obtained from bent police officers. He later stood trial for the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan but the case collapsed in 2011.  A fuller account of his activities can be found in the Press Gang series The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency
Photo: PA

Daniel Morgan’s place as Rees’ partner was taken by former Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery. 

Fillery had been part of the homicide team investigating the murder until his superiors realised he was a friend of Rees.

Southern Investigations provided Gary Jones and the Mirror with one scoop after another.

The evidence comes from a secret operation — Two Bridges — mounted by anti-corruption detectives at Scotland Yard.

They bugged the offices of Southern Investigations and, in September 1999, raided the firm and many of its network of informants. 

From the files generated by this operation, Press Gang has already shown that 

— in September 1998 phone hacking may have played a part in an exclusive about news presenter Kirsty Young’s new relationship with millionaire businessman Nick Young. In our story Down In The Gutter we showed that Southern Investigations followed Young over several days. The paper’s reluctance to publish the story straight away suggests the original source of the story may have come from phone hacking ,,,

KIRSTY YOUNG WHEN THE presenter interviewed Piers Morgan in 2009, he appeared to admit the Daily Mirror had been involved in phone hacking. What Young didn’t know is that she had been a target of the Daily Mirror in 1998 when she began a new relationship. The story may have resulted from phone hacking …  Photo: PA

KIRSTY YOUNG
WHEN THE Desert Island Discs presenter interviewed Piers Morgan in 2009, he appeared to admit the Daily Mirror had been involved in phone hacking. What Young didn’t know is that she’d been a target of Piers Morgan’s paper in 1998 when she began a new relationship. The story may have resulted from phone hacking … 
Photo: PA

— in October 1998 Gary Jones and Oonagh Blackman published an article revealing the confidential mortgage details of members of the committee which set interest rates. In our article Assault On The Bank Of England we showed that Southern Investigations had illegally “blagged” the information from banks and building societies. The firm sent one set of doctored invoices to the Daily Mirror accounts department but Press Gang obtained a confidential statement sent to Gary Jones marked “For Your Information Only” which reveals the true nature of the operation.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Invoices generated by Southern Investigations were usually heavily disguised.

“Confidential enquiries” was the phrase used to cover up illegal activity ordered by Gary Jones on behalf of the Mirror.

Four of these invoices include parts of telephone numbers.

The first was in October 1997 — long before the Irish Mirror published its piece.

Southern Investigations was billing Jones for “confidential enquiries” relating to a telephone number showing just the dialling code 01480 (Huntingdon). 

In 1998 there were three more invoices — again with only part of the number given.

The sums involved — around £300 each — suggest these “confidential enquiries” involved print-outs of calls made from the numbers.

Southern Investigations had people inside phone companies who made copies of itemised phone calls.

Just how corrupt the relationship between Gary Jones and Jonathan Rees actually was is shown by a dramatic row which took place in July 1999. 

♦♦♦

IT’S TUESDAY, 6 July 1999 at the offices of Southern Investigations in Thornton Heath, South London.

Jonathan Rees is busy.

Some of his work is legitimate routine bread and butter stuff like serving writs and tracing people.

But increasingly his time is taken up with obtaining confidential information and selling it to newspapers like the News of the World and the Mirror Group. 

Unknown to him, every word he says today will be recorded.

A bug has been planted in the building by anti-corruption detectives from Scotland Yard as part of Operation Two Bridges.

Two Bridges has two aims.

One is to generate information about the murder of Daniel Morgan in 1987.

The second is part of an attempt to prevent Southern Investigations from corrupting police officers.

An internal Scotland Yard document — later leaked to the BBC Home Affairs correspondent Graeme McLagan — spelt out the concerns.

Rees — and his partner, ex Metropolitan Police detective Sid Fillery:

“.. are alert, cunning and devious individuals who have current knowledge of investigative methods and techniques which may be used against them.”

SID FILLERY THE FORMER Scotland Yard detective — charged with perverting the course of justice in connection with the murder of Daniel —  was discharged in 2010. By then, though, Fillery already had a criminal record — he was convicted of making and possessing indecent images of children in 2003. He now helps run the Lion public house in the village of Thurne in the Norfolk Broads. Photo: PA 

“CUNNING AND DEVIOUS”
A CHARGE against former Scotland Yard detective Sid Fillery — perverting the course of justice in connection with the murder of Daniel Morgan— was dropped in 2010. By then, though, Fillery already had a criminal record — he was convicted of making and possessing indecent images of children in 2003. He now helps run the Lion public house in the village of Thurne in the Norfolk Broads.
Photo: PA

“They use some of the techniques in their own daily activities.”

“Such is their level of access to individuals within the police, through professional and social contacts, that the threat of compromise to any conventional investigation against them is constant and very real.”  

But on that Tuesday — 6 July 1999 — Rees is oblivious to the fact that his office is bugged.

When he rings Gary Jones at the Daily Mirror to discuss invoices, he believes the conversation is private.

Rees says he’s faxing through a full list of invoices for the work done for the Mirror Group (including the MirrorPeople and the Sunday Mirror) that year.

The total is £16,991 for the five months. 

The list includes nearly £6,000 for the illegal supply of itemised print-outs of calls made from phones. 

Rees says

“… when it comes through you’ll see the invoice, with lots of stars next to them, and roughly billed at about £300 odd — which is print-outs.“

Rees tells Jones there are 19 of these print-outs with the initials of the reporters who ordered them, with “G.J. being you.”

Later that day Rees and Jones have another discussion about the lack of detail on the invoices relating to these print-outs.

Jones is under pressure from the paper’s accounts department to provide more information on the Southern Investigations invoices.

Rees loses his temper:

“Well they are printouts …”

“ … this is tiresome, fucking tiresome …”

“ … we are not going to put the numbers in there because what we are doing is illegal …”

“ … I don’t want people coming in and nicking us for criminal offence, you know.”

When this conversation takes place, Gary Jones is sitting at his desk in the Daily Mirror newsroom on the 22nd floor of the skyscraper at Canary Wharf.

A few yards away is the editor’s corner office.

Can Piers Morgan have known absolutely nothing about Gary Jones’ illegal activities?

♦♦♦

OPERATION TWO BRIDGES comes to an abrupt end in September 1999.

The bug in Southern Investigations reveals Rees has a client fighting his estranged wife for custody of their child.

Rees agrees to organise a conspiracy with a corrupt police officer to plant cocaine in the wife’s car.

The plan is to saddle her with a drugs conviction — so proving her to be an unfit mother.

The police pounce on the conspirators.

Rees and the client are given seven year prison sentences.

The corrupt police officer is gaoled for five.

Sid Fillery is not involved. 

SURVEILLANCE OPERATION TWO BRIDGES officers photographed Jonathan Rees outside the offices of Southern Investigations in south London. Detectives were watching the building while others listened in on the bug secretly placed inside …  Photo: PA 

SURVEILLANCE OPERATION
TWO BRIDGES officers photographed Jonathan Rees outside the offices of Southern Investigations in south London. Detectives were watching the building while others listened in on the bug secretly placed inside … 
Photo: PA

When police closed in on the conspiracy, they also arrested many of those suspected of being involved in illegal news-gathering.

One of them was Doug Kempster, a reporter with the Sunday Mirror, part of the Mirror group.

An internal police report shows some senior police officers wanted a conviction:

“It is likely that journalists and private investigators who actively corrupt serving officers would receive a long custodial sentence if convicted.”

“There will be a high level of media interest in this particular investigation, especially when involving journalists.”

“The Metropolitan Police will undoubtedly benefit if a journalist is convicted of corrupting serving police officers.”

“This will send a clear message to members of the media to consider their own ethical and illegal involvement with employees of the Met in the future.”

Police submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service which decided not to charge the reporter.  

Kempster’s arrest sent shock waves around senior management at the Mirror Group.

But it did not stop illegal news-gathering at Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror.

With Jonathan Rees in gaol, the paper turned to another private eye — Steve Whittamore.

By the time he was arrested for breaches of the Data Protection Act in 2003, the paper had spent at least £92,000 with the private eye.

In our article Whodunnit? we exclusively revealed that one of the Mirror reporters who apparently commissioned work from Whittamore was Tom Newton Dunn.

TOM NEWTON DUNN THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun, Tom Newton Dunn was a young Mirror reporter when he ordered an unlawful criminal record check. Photo: PA

TOM NEWTON DUNN
THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun, Tom Newton Dunn was a young Mirror reporter when he allegedly ordered an unlawful criminal record check.
Photo: PA

Today, he’s the political editor of The Sun.

In the early 2000s Dunn’s name was recorded by Whittamore as the Mirror contact for a criminal record check of a parliamentary candidate. 

This was Adrian Flook, who later became Tory MP for Taunton.

Newton Dunn does not answer our emails.

♦♦♦

IS IT possible Piers Morgan didn’t know what was going on at the Mirror when he was editor? 

During the Leveson Inquiry journalist James Hipwell gave evidence about phone hacking when he worked at the paper between 1998 and 2000.

Hipwell was a financial journalist and worked close to the paper’s showbiz reporters.

He said they hacked openly and frequently.

Hacking was “a bog-standard journalistic tool for gathering information.” 

He had no direct evidence Piers Morgan was involved but added: 

“I would say that it is very unlikely that he didn’t know it was going on …”

“The newspaper was built around the cult of Piers.”  

“He was the newspaper.”

‘Nothing happened at the newspaper without him knowing.”

When he gave evidence, Morgan was contemptuous of Hipwell.

Hipwell had been gaoled for six months for insider dealing in 2000 while working for the paper’s City Slickers column.

He bought shares in a company owned by Alan Sugar before they were tipped by the column.

JAMES HIPWELL A FORMER Daily Mirror financial reporter in the late 1990s, Hipwell says phone hacking was “bog-standard” among the paper’s show-business journalists. Piers Morgan claims Hipwell was not a credible witness because he had a grudge against him — but several judges preferred Hipwell’s testimony to Morgan’s …   Photo: PA

JAMES HIPWELL
A FORMER Daily Mirror financial reporter in the late 1990s, Hipwell says phone hacking was “bog-standard” among the paper’s show-business journalists. Piers Morgan claims Hipwell was not a credible witness because he had a grudge against him — but several judges preferred Hipwell’s testimony to Morgan’s …  
Photo: PA

The shares rocketed in value the next day.

Piers Morgan also bought shares but always insisted he didn’t know they were going to be the subject of a Mirror article.

In a statement to Leveson, Morgan wrote:

“I note that Mr Hipwell is a convicted criminal who changed his story on a number of occasions during the City Slickers investigation, in part to wrongfully implicate me.”

“I believe any testimony he gives to be inherently unreliable.”

Leveson, though, found Hipwell a credible witness:

“… the Inquiry does conclude that the practice of phone hacking may well have taken place at the Mirror titles at the time Mr Hipwell was working there …”

Leveson also questioned Piers Morgan about his comment after the 2007 gaoling of News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman for hacking royal phones.

Morgan had been Goodman’s editor at the News of the World in 1994-1995.

“… I feel a lot of sympathy for a man who has been the convenient fall guy for an investigative practice that everyone knows was going on at every paper in Fleet Street for years.” 

Morgan told Leveson he was talking about the “rumour mill” at the time — and that phone hacking wasn’t happening at the Daily Mirror.

Leveson was caustic:

“This was not, in any sense at all, a convincing answer.”

“Overall, Mr Morgan’s attempt to push back from his own bullish statement to the Press Gazette was utterly unpersuasive.”

♦♦♦

MORE AND more evidence is emerging about the “dark arts” at the Daily Mirror.

So far Operation Golding, the Scotland Yard operation into phone hacking at the Mirror Group, has seen 15 journalists — including Piers Morgan — questioned under caution. 

The investigation continues.

Scores of civil claims are also generating large amounts of information.

In May Mr Justice Mann ordered the Mirror group to pay eight victims a massive £1.2 million in damages.

MIRROR, MIRROR THERE ARE two Piers Morgans. Photo: PA

MIRROR, MIRROR
THERE ARE two Piers Morgans. There’s the brash tabloid editor with the big mouth who’s made a large number of comments making it clear he knew all about the “dark arts” when he was the paper’s editor. And then there’s the innocent journalist who claims he’s been misunderstood — he’s actually a high-minded, ethical editor. If these terrible things happened on his watch, he certainly didn’t authorise them …
Photo: PA / Graphic: Terry Evans, Wheelbarrow Studios

Six were victims of the Daily Mirror during Piers Morgan’s tenure — including the actress Sadie Frost and the footballer Paul Gascoigne.

The judgment also revealed that the Mirror papers:

“admitted paying over £2.25 million (in over 13,000 invoices) to certain named private eyes in the years from 2000 to 2007.”

Mr Justice Mann noted that the Mirror’s legal team acknowledged:

“that ‘an unquantifiable but substantial’ number of the inquiries made of the agents is likely to have been to obtain private information that could not be obtained lawfully.”

♦♦♦

© Press Gang
Published: 29 June 2015

♦♦♦

NOTES

1  Many of the examples where Piers Morgan is alleged to have made statements indicating he knew about phone hacking have been left out of this article. They are all well known and including them would have made the piece too long.

2  There are reporting restrictions in the recent civil case against the Mirror group. Mr Justice Mann ordered the names of several journalists should be redacted — apparently because they are the subject of active police inquiries.

3  A more detailed analysis of Mr Justice Mann’s decision will be included in a planned article — The Mirror: Crack’d From Side To Side — about the group’s disastrous management of the scandal.

4  Since the Mann judgment opens the way to everyone targeted by the Daily Mirror, a full list of all those whose names are included in the Southern Investigations invoices will be added to this post later. They include, for example, the environmental activist Daniel “Swampy” Hooper as well as scores of ordinary people …

♦♦♦

COMING UP 
A SLICKER FULL OF LIES
THE STORY of Piers Morgan’s involvement in the “Slickergate Affair” of 2000 makes sobering reading. There is evidence that Morgan sacrificed two of his journalists to save his own skin — and that senior Mirror Group managers were in on the plot. The attempt to spin the truth of what happened even involved lying to Lord Leveson …  Part five of A Pretty Despicable Man tells the story of a deliberate corporate cover-up  … 

 ♦♦♦

JOIN THE GANGBUSTERS …
THERE’S A need for a trustworthy website to expose rogue reporters. Press Gang is that outlet — fearless and fair. Join us by becoming a gangbuster and help pay some of our expenses. Just hit the button …

Donate Button with Credit Cards

CORRECTIONS
Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY
If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

DOWN IN THE GUTTER

June 7, 2015

PIERS_MORGAN_part_3

 ON MAY 21 Mr Justice Mann delivered a damning verdict on the Mirror group. 

He found that its newspapers — the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and the People — had engaged in phone hacking and other illegal news-gathering on a massive scale.

In a test case at the High Court, he ordered the company to pay £1.2 million in damages to just eight victims.  

Six of these — including the footballer Paul Gascoigne, BBC executive Alan Yentob and the actress Sadie Frost — were also hacked by reporters working for Piers Morgan during his 1995-2004 tenure as Daily Mirror editor.

Many more cases are in the pipeline.

Morgan himself has been interviewed under caution by detectives as part of Operation Golding, the Scotland Yard inquiry into phone hacking at the group.

Press Gang continues its investigation of the former tabloid editor with a revealing tale of the Daily Mirror’s intrusion into the private life of television newsreader Kirsty Young.

♦♦♦

IN 2009 Piers Morgan was put on the spot about his knowledge of the “dark arts” — including phone hacking — at the Mirror.

He was a guest on the BBC Desert Island Discs programme in June that year.

Presenter Kirsty Young asked him:

“And what about this nice middle-class boy who would have to be dealing with, I mean, essentially people who rake through people’s bins for a living?

KIRSTY YOUNG  THE SCOTTISH journalist's interview with Piers Morgan on Desert Island Discs in 2009 has proved to be a serious embarrassment for the former Mirror editor. Photo: PA

KIRSTY YOUNG
THE SCOTTISH journalist’s interview with Piers Morgan on Desert Island Discs in 2009 has proved a serious embarrassment for the former Daily Mirror editor.
Photo: PA

“People who tap people’s phones, people who take secret photographs… who do all that very nasty down-in-the-gutter stuff — how did you feel about that?”

Morgan was clear:

“Well, let’s put that into perspective …”

“Not a lot of that went on …”

“A lot of it was done by third parties, rather than the staff themselves …”

“That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work.”

“I’m quite happy … to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to …”

“I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do.”

“I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide …”

These comments echoed his views when News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman was gaoled for hacking royal phones in 2007.

Morgan — who had been Goodman’s editor at the News of the World in 1995 — told trade journal Press Gazette he had a lot of sympathy for Goodman:

“… a man who has been the convenient fall guy for an investigative practice that everyone knows was going on at almost every paper in Fleet Street for years.” 

But he suddenly changed his tune after the revelation, in July 2011, that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked. 

When the U.S. Daily Beast website resurrected his Desert Island Discs comments, Morgan was emphatic.

He told the Beast:

REVISIONISM AS SOON as it became clear that the phone hacking scandal was going to see journalists gaoled , Piers Morgan has been trying desperately to distance himself from earlier statements which suggested he knew all about the practice ...  Photo: PA

REVISIONISM
AS SOON as it became clear that the phone hacking scandal was going to see journalists gaoled, Piers Morgan has been struggling to distance himself from earlier statements suggesting he knew all about the practice.
Photo: PA

“For the record … I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.”

By the time Morgan appeared before Lord Leveson in December 2011 he was claiming there’d been a misunderstanding during the Desert Island Discs recording:

“I didn’t hear her say phone-tapping.”

“She rattles off a list of stuff, and if you listen to it in real time I think you would see that.”

(Readers can judge for themselves: here’s the link to that edition of Desert Island Discs.)

But when Piers Morgan appeared on the programme, there was one thing he didn’t tell Kirsty Young.

And when he gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, he didn’t mention it either … 

It was that Young herself been the target of “down-in-the-gutter” tactics by Piers Morgan’s Mirror.

The story is also pregnant with the possibility it started as a result of phone-hacking … 

♦♦♦

THE TALE begins in September 1998.

On the 5th, the Mirror exclusively revealed the presenter had split up with Scottish rugby star Kenny Logan.

A week later, the Mirror found out that Young had spent the night with Nick Jones, the millionaire owner of the Soho House club.

At the time Jones had just separated from his wife.

But, for reasons that have never been explained, the paper did not splash the story at that point.

NICK JONES                                                   THE ENTREPRENEUR who founded the Soho House group, Nick Jones had just separated from his wife Tania when he met Kirsty Young. The new couple — who are now married — were targeted by Piers Morgan's Daily Mirror when their relationship began in 1998.  Photo: PA

NICK JONES
THE ENTREPRENEUR who founded the Soho House group, Jones had just separated from his wife Tania when he met Kirsty Young. The new couple — who are now married — were targeted by Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror when their relationship began in 1998.
Photo: PA

Instead, senior Mirror journalist Gary Jones asked a private eye to organise a surveillance operation.

This was Jonathan Rees, a partner in the Southern Investigations detective agency.

Rees had been a suspect in the murder of his former partner Daniel Morgan in 1987.

(See The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency for more details.)

On September 16, one of Rees’ “agents” used a motorbike to keep tabs on her movements.

He spent three hours and travelled 35 miles.

The next day, it was for just under three hours, clocking up 25 miles.

On September 18, it was exactly the same.

Rees charged the paper £260.25.

Again, the Mirror didn’t publish.

Again, the reasons why it hesitated have never been made clear. 

On September 22 Young was once again under observation — but not by Rees and his team.

JONATHAN REES THE CONTROVERSIAL private eye was an important cog in the Daily Mirror's illegal news-gathering operation. Rees had been a suspect in the 1987 murder of his partner Daniel Morgan and was convicted of conspiracy to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. He was given a seven year prison sentence.   Photo: PA

JONATHAN REES
THE CONTROVERSIAL private eye was an important cog in the Daily Mirror’s illegal news-gathering operation. Rees had been a suspect in the 1987 murder of his partner Daniel Morgan and was later convicted of conspiracy to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. He was given a seven year prison sentence.
Photo: PA

It seems the paper’s own reporters, convinced Young and Jones were an item, were now mounting their own surveillance operation.

On September 22 Young was followed from the studios where she’d just finished presenting the Channel 5 News.

She left the building at 7pm and was tailed to her flat in Kensington.

Nick Jones turned up and, an hour later, the pair were photographed at a local restuarant. 

They were still being watched the next morning when they had breakfast in a cafe.

The couple then travelled to Somerset to stay in the Babbington House country club near Frome, also owned by Jones’ company. 

After an overnight stay, Young caught the London train in time to read that evening’s Channel 5 News.

But it took another week before the Daily Mirror exclusively revealed — in a double page spread  on September 30 — that the couple were an item.

The piece was written by Lucy Rock and Oonagh Blackman. 

“DARK ARTS” MASTER
GARY JONES — today he’s executive editor of the Sunday Mirror — was one of the key figures in the illegal news-gathering activities at the Daily Mirror. A former crime reporter on the News of the World when Piers Morgan was editor in 1994-199, he moved to the Mirror in 1996.

So why did it take the Mirror so long to make its dramatic revelation?

The paper sat on the information for at least a week — and possibly a fortnight.

The story was tabloid dynamite and every day the Mirror risked being scooped by one of its rivals. 

Surveillance has never been illegal and — at that time — listening to phone messages was not unlawful.

But paying someone to blag confidential details of phone numbers and PIN codes was a criminal offence.

Was this the original source of the story — and the paper was desperate to find alternative sources for the story?

Former Daily Mirror reporter James Hipwell claims that, by mid-1999, phone hacking was “rife” and “endemic” at the paper, especially on its showbiz desk.

Even though Hipwell was gaoled for insider dealing at the paper in 2000, his testimony was considered reliable by Lord Leveson — and by Mr Justice Mann in last month’s civil case. 

♦♦♦

WE ASKED all those involved in the Kirsty Young story to comment. 

Gary Jones, the senior journalist who asked Jonathan Rees to carry out the surveillance operation, didn’t reply.

He’s been named in several Press Gang articles but doesn’t answer our emails. 

JAMES HIPWELL THE FORMER Mirror financial reporter claims that phone hacking started at the Daily Mirror in mid-1999. Although he was gaoled for insider dealing at the Daily Mirror, judges — including Lord Leveson and Mr Justice Mann, have believed his testimony. Photo: PA

JAMES HIPWELL
THE FORMER Daily Mirror financial reporter claims that phone hacking started at the paper in mid-1999. Although he was gaoled for insider dealing at the Daily Mirror, judges — including Lord Leveson and Mr Justice Mann — have believed his testimony.
Photo: PA

We have not been able to contact Oonagh Blackman, one of the reporters who wrote the exposé of Kirsty Young and Nick Jones’ relationship.

We emailed the other by-lined journalist, Lucy Rock — now news editor at The Observer.

She told us:

“I was asked by the newsdesk to ‘doorstep’ those involved.” 

“I don’t know where the tip came from, but there was never any suggestion of phone hacking.”

“Indeed, I heard no mention of this practice during my time at The Mirror.”  

We were unable to reach Piers Morgan.

He’s never answered any of our emails. 

We left a message with Nick Jones, Kirsty Young’s husband, at Soho House.

He didn’t come back to us.

♦♦♦

IN 2005 Piers Morgan published his best-selling memoirs, The Insider.

It’s an account of his years as editor of the News of the World (1994-1995) and Daily Mirror (1995-2004).

There’s not a word about the “dark arts” practiced at the Daily Mirror

In the late 1990s anti-corruption detectives at Scotland Yard launched Operation Two Bridges against Jonathan Rees and his Southern Investigations private detective agency.

They wanted information about Rees’ attempts to corrupt serving police officers — and about his alleged involvement in the 1987 murder of his partner Daniel Morgan.

Invoices seized from Southern Investigations during Operation Two Bridges show the firm was a key element in Piers Morgan’s editorial strategy.

INSIDER SECRETS PIERS MORGAN published his memoirs — The Insider — but there's no mention of the

INSIDER SECRETS
PIERS MORGAN published his memoirs — The Insider — in 2005 but there’s no mention of the “dark arts” used at the Daily Mirror
Photo; PA

In August 2011 BBC economics editor Robert Peston obtained a set of these invoices.

He revealed that, between October 1997 and September 1999, the Mirror group used Jonathan Rees on 230 occasions.

Peston calculated that the Daily and Sunday Mirror paid Rees just under £67,000.

Many of these were simple “fishing expeditions” — finding out about famous people’s financial affairs.

Often the information was not newsworthy — and nothing appeared in the Daily Mirror.

Press Gang has also obtained a set of these invoices.

Here are some of the entries that could have gone into Piers Morgan’s diaries — if he’d decided to tell the truth about what the Daily Mirror was really up to …

20 May 1998  The Mirror’s Gary Jones ordered “confidential enquiries” on “Emma Noble”, then girlfriend of former Prime Minister John Major’s son. No private information appeared in the paper. Cost: £282.

13 July 1998  In another fishing expedition, Gary Jones asked Jonathan Rees to obtain “bankers details” on No 10 advisor Roger Liddle and lobbyist Derek Draper. The two men were suspected of selling access to Labour ministers. The cost — £662.47.

21 Sept 1998  Arthur Scargill’s wife, Dr Margaret Scargill, was the target. Gary Jones spent £403.37 on “bankers details”. Nothing appeared in the paper. 

THE FORMer English rugby srar, hacked by the Mirror.

WILL CARLING
THE FORMER captain of the England rugby team, Carling was blagged by the Daily Mirror in 1998. The paper published details of his bank account and mortgage.
Photo: PA

6 Oct 1998  The paper paid Jonathan Rees £677.97 to dig out personal information on Will Carling. The former England rugby international was in the news because he’d left his wife. Gary Jones ordered the search for “Financial / Company Information” which was extracted from “RBS, Abbey National”. The bill was £677.97. 
    This time personal information was published. In a long piece written by Gary Jones, Colin Price and Oonagh Blackman on October 7, two quotes stand out. One says: “Last month Carling took £5,000 in salary from the business to pay his mortgage.” One of his companies — Inspirational Horizons — “has just £1,500 in its account”. This could have come from his RBS bank account. 
    The second states: “The star, who has a £400,000 mortgage on the five bedroom property, needs to find more than £2,800 a month in repayments.” Did this come from his Abbey National mortgage? Will Carling told us
 he did not want to comment. 

19 Oct 1998  Jonathan Rees sent Gary Jones two bills relating to an investigation of the business affairs of TV presenter Anthea Turner’s then boyfriend Grant Bovey. Turner had left her husband the previous January and moved in with Bovey. The first invoice, for £500, was for “confidential enquiries” about Bovey and his wife. The second — “undertaking detailed financial searches” into Bovey — was worth £569. The total was £1,069.
A double page spread had appeared on Bovey’s affairs four days earlier. The piece — written by Gary Jones, Matthew Wright and Oonagh Blackman— stated Bovey’s bankers were “calling for crisis talks to discuss his personal problems.” “They have told him to stop issuing cheques after running up an overdraft of nearly £16,000.” This information could have been blagged from Bovey’s bank.

PETER MANDELSON   THE LABOUR minister was another victim of the Daily Mirror. He resigned as Trade Secretary in December 1998 after it was revealed he'd failed to declare a £378,000 personal loan from fellow minister Geoffrey Robinson. The day before his resignation the Mirror's Gary Jones asked Jonathan Rees to blag details of the Trade Minister's bank and mortgage accounts. The Mirror revealed Mandelson had £50,000 in a Coutts account — and that his £150,000 mortgage with the Britannia Building Society cost £1,000 a month. According to the BBC's Robert Peston, the Mandelson operation cost the Mirror £1,116.  Photo: PA

PETER MANDELSON
THE LABOUR minister was another victim of the Daily Mirror. He resigned as Trade Secretary in December 1998 after it was revealed he’d failed to declare a £378,000 personal loan from fellow minister Geoffrey Robinson. The day before his resignation the Mirror’s Gary Jones asked Jonathan Rees to blag details of the Trade Minister’s bank and mortgage accounts. The Mirror revealed Mandelson had £50,000 in a Coutts account — and that his £150,000 mortgage with the Britannia Building Society cost £1,000 a month. According to the BBC’s Robert Peston, the Mandelson operation cost the Mirror £1,116.
Photo: PA

4 Jan 1999  Gary Jones paid Jonathan Rees £499.37 to find information about Alistair Campbell, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s press secretary. No personal financial details appeared in the Mirror. The cost was £499.37.

15 Mar 1999   The Mirror pays £264.37 for information about Mick Jagger — no confidential material appeared in the paper.

♦♦♦

ALL OF these individuals have grounds for suing the Daily Mirror.

Their chances of success have been strengthened by last month’s verdict in the eight “sample” cases heard by Mr Justice Mann.

The judge ruled that, even for those whose confidential details were never published in the newspaper, damages can be awarded.

His judgment also reveals the extraordinary scale of illegal newsgathering —  the “dark arts” — at the Mirror and its stablemates.

CROCODILE CONTRITION  THE MIRROR'S limited apology published in February this year — more than a decade after the paper began phone hacking. In the civil case last month, Mr Justice Mann considered this to be a

CROCODILE CONTRITION
THE MIRROR’S limited apology published in February this year — more than 15 years after the paper began phone hacking. In the civil case last month, Mr Justice Mann considered this to be motivated by “tactical” legal reasons rather than genuine “contrition” …

Up to now, for example, Press Gang has only been aware of two private eyes who were used by the papers.

They are Jonathan Rees of Southern Investigations in the years up to 1999 and Steve Whittamore in the early 2000s.

The BBC revealed that the Daily and Sunday Mirror spent £67,000 with Southern Investigations between 1997 and 1999. 

An analysis by ITV News showed that the Daily Mirror paid Steve Whittamore at least £92,000 up until his arrest in March 2003.

That makes a total of £159,000.

But the Mann verdict reveals this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Judge Mann noted that the Mirror papers:

“admitted paying over £2.25 million (in over 13,000 invoices) to certain named private eyes in the years from 2000 to 2007.”  

“The total covers a lot of agents, and some of their work may have been legitimate.”

But the judge added that the Mirror’s legal team:

“has admitted that ‘an unquantifiable but substantial’ number of the inquiries made of the agents is likely to have been to obtain private information that could not be obtained lawfully.” 

In other words, illegal news-gathering — including but not limited to phone hacking — was taking place on a colossal scale at the group.

♦♦♦

Published: 7 June 2015
© Press Gang 

♦♦♦

NOTES

1  There are reporting restrictions in the recent civil case against the Mirror group. Mr Justice Mann has ordered the names of several journalists should be redacted — apparently because they are the subject of active police inquiries.

2  A more detailed analysis of Mr Justice Mann’s decision will be included in a planned article — The Mirror: Crack’d From Side To Side — about the group’s disastrous management of the scandal.

3  Since the Mann judgment opens the way to everyone targeted by the Daily Mirror, a full list of all those whose names are included in the Southern Investigations invoices will be added to this post later. They include, for example, the environmental activist Daniel “Swampy” Hooper as well as scores of ordinary people …

♦♦♦

COMING UP 
DIAL M FOR MORGAN
THE JUDGE in last month’s civil case against the Mirror group accepted that phone hacking became a key feature of the papers in mid-1999. In part four of A Pretty Despicable Man Press Gang presents cast-iron evidence Daily Mirror reporters were hacking the phones of senior politicians a year earlier…

 ♦♦♦

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CORRECTIONS
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RIGHT OF REPLY
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WHODUNNIT…?

October 27, 2014

PIERS_MORGAN_with_words_2d

THE POLITICAL editor of The Sun — Tom Newton Dunn — has a secret.

He’s been involved in illegal news-gathering.

Documents obtained by Press Gang implicate him in a “dirty tricks” campaign against a Tory politician.

But was it off his own bat — or did someone order him to do it?

At the time Newton Dunn was working for Piers Morgan at the Daily Mirror.

The new information comes from a Press Gang investigation of Piers Morgan — the largest ever undertaken.

The title is based on a comment made by Morgan himself — he once said you had to be a “fairly despicable” human being to edit the Mirror.

The politician targeted was Adrian Flook, Conservative MP for Taunton between 2001 and 2005.

He now works for the Australian spin doctor Lynton Crosby.

Crosby is a political advisor to David Cameron.

Flook knew nothing about the operation until we contacted him.

TOM NEWTON DUNN THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun, Dunn was involved in the "dark arts" of illegal news-gathering when he worked for Piers Morgan's Daily Mirror between 1998 and 2003.  Photo: PA

TOM NEWTON DUNN
THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun was involved in the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering when he worked for the Daily Mirror between 1998 and 2003. This undermines Morgan’s insistence he knew nothing about phone hacking and other unlawful activities while he was editor.
Photo: PA

The former MP was a member of the Commons Culture Media & Sport select committee when it investigated press invasion of personal privacy in 2003.

Piers Morgan, Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks all gave evidence.

 This was also the occasion when Rebekah Brooks made her famous admission that she had paid police for information.She didn’t realise she was confessing to a crime.

Piers Morgan called it “dropping the tabloid baton”. 

Was this an admission that Mirror reporters — like Newton Dunn — were willing to pay police for information?

And was he also referring to his payment of a large sum of money for a confidential police file concerning Princess Diana back in 1994?

At the time, he was editor of the News of the World …

♦♦♦

ONE DAY, early in 2001.

A private detective based in Hampshire receives a request from the Daily Mirror.

The paper is researching a Tory councillor in the London borough of Wandsworth called Adrian Flook.

Flook is also the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the Taunton constituency.

The private eye is Steve Whittamore.

In the office of his home in New Milton, Whittamore reaches for a red notebook.

The “Red Book” is where he records work commissioned by the Daily Mirror and its sister papers The People and the Sunday Mirror.

Some of the paper’s requests are straightforward and legal — it wants to know who’s living at Flook’s London home and at his base in Taunton.

But Whittamore’s services also include a battery of unlawful activities.

These range from obtaining ex-directory numbers and detailed phone bills to “blagging” other personal information.

The most powerful are criminal record checks — known as CROs — made on the Police National Computer.

The Mirror wants to know if Flook has a criminal record.

ADRIAN FLOOK  THE TORY MP for Taunton, 2001-2005, did not know he'd been targeted by the Daily Mirror until Press Gang told him earlier this year.  Photo: PA

TARGET
ADRIAN FLOOK did not know the Daily Mirror ordered an illegal criminal record check on him until Press Gang told him earlier this year. Elected Tory MP for Taunton in 2001, he lost his seat in the 2005 General Election.  
Photo: PA

In the “Red Book” Whittamore notes the paper’s order for a “CRO” and logs Flook’s date of birth.

Only police — and a small number of other agencies — are allowed access to the Police National Computer (PNC).

Because it’s a criminal offence to search the PNC without proper authorisation, CROs are the most expensive weapons in Whittamore’s arsenal.

They cost £500 each.

Whittamore also notes the name of his contact at the paper.

It’s a young journalist called Tom Newton Dunn.

He’s been with the Daily Mirror since 1998.

The Daily Mirror never published an article about Adrian Flook.

“That’s because I don’t have a criminal record,” Flook says.

He adds:

“I suspect the whole thing was part of a local ‘dirty tricks’ campaign designed to de-rail my campaign in Taunton.”

In 2003 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raids Whittamore’s home as part of Operation Motorman.

When investigators discover Whittamore has also been paying police officers and civilians, they call in the Metropolitan Police.

The Met launches Operation Glade.

In 2005 Whittamore pleads guilty to breaching the Data Protection Act.

Two of his associates — a former police detective and a civilian employee — also plead guilty to conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

They’ve been making unauthorised searches of the Police National Computer.

All receive conditional discharges.

Flook is one of thousands of individuals whose names turn up in Whittamore’s files.

The vast majority are never informed by the Metropolitan Police or the Information Commissioner’s Office.

It will be thirteen years before Adrian Flook discovers he’s one of them …

♦♦♦

THE INVESTIGATION for this story began three years ago.

Earlier this year Channel 4 agreed to underwrite some of the research.

It later dropped the project.

In March we found an informant — codename “Trinity” — who provided information that the Mirror could have targeted Adrian Flook.

“Trinity” suggested Flook’s name might be found in Whittamore’s “Red Book”.

We spoke to the former MP.

He then wrote to the Information Commissioner’s Office asking if he featured in any of the records seized as part of Operation Motorman.

In May Information Commissioner Christopher Graham replied.

He enclosed a photocopy of an entry in Whittamore’s notebook which confirmed Flook had been a target.

SMOKING GUN THE ENTRY from private eye Steve Whittamore's notebook recording the operation against Adrian Flook. The first entry, following his normal practice, records the name of his contact jou, followed by the newspaper, in this case "D. M." — Daily Mirror. Then the target, Flook,

SMOKING GUN
THE EXTRACT from Steve Whittamore’s “Red Book” recording the operation against Adrian Flook. The first entry records the name of the journalist involved — “Tom Newton-Dunn”, followed by the newspaper, in this case “D. M.” = Daily Mirror. The “N” in the circle means the request is coming from news rather than features. No date is given but Press Gang believes it was in February 2001. Most of the searches ordered are legal — it’s only in the last line that the request becomes potentially criminal in nature. It states “CRO [short for Criminal Record Check] for above — D.O.B 9 / 7 / 63”. That date is Flook’s birthday.

The section concerning the CRO check has a wavy black line written through it. 

There are several possible explanations for this.

The Daily Mirror could have cancelled the request.

Or it could mean Whittamore passed the request to his contacts in the police — and drew the line to remind himself he’d done so.

Flook wrote to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

He asked him to check if the Police National Computer check had actually taken place.

Hogan-Howe passed the matter to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

In May Flook met Detective Superintendent Clive Stevens from the DPS.

In June Stevens wrote to say:

“It cannot be confirmed whether any checks, lawful or otherwise, were ever carried on your details.”  

(In a later letter he added:

“I have made enquiries … with the Police National Computer Policy and Performance Unit and I regret to inform you that this information is not available for checks carried out in 2001.”)

Stevens also addressed the question of why Flook was never informed he’d been a target of Steve Whittamore and the Daily Mirror

“The workbooks seized from Stephen Whittamore contained several thousand entries,” he explained.

“It would not have been practicable to trace and contact all the people that appeared in these workbooks.”

“It seems that as you had not been specifically identified as a victim within the Operation Glade inquiry … you were not informed by any of the investigating agencies involved … your name had appeared as a person of interest to Stephen Whittamore.”

“I hope that you can appreciate that whilst this is regrettable, it is understandable and reasonable given the scale of the task at hand.”

Adrian Flook cannot understand why he was never contacted.

By the time Operation Glade began in March 2003  he was no ordinary citizen.

NEW SCOTLAND YARD WHEN ADRIAN FLOOK  met a senior Metropilitan Police detective, much of the meeting was spent talking about the journalist who'd told the former MP he'd been a target of the Daily Mirror. As Det Supt Stevens later put it:  "I would be grateful for any information you could share about the journalist in question so I can reassure myself that information about this investigation has not been obtained or disclosed in breach of any police regulations or by criminal act."  [I will contact Stevens to assure him that "Trinity" has not been paid for his assistance and that his not and never has been employed by the Met.]  Photo: Rebecca Television Stevens added:

HUNT THE MESSENGER
WHEN ADRIAN FLOOK met a senior Metropolitan Police detective in May, much of the meeting was spent talking about the journalist who’d told the former MP he’d been a target of the Daily Mirror. As Det Supt Clive Stevens later put it: “I would be grateful for any information you could share about the journalist in question so I can reassure myself that information about this investigation has not been obtained or disclosed in breach of any police regulations or by criminal act.” Press Gang Editor Paddy French emailed Stevens and assured him that our contact “Trinity” is not, and has never been, a Met police officer or a civilian employee. We also told him that he had given his information without payment of any kind.    Photo: Rebecca Television

He’d been elected to Parliament.

More than that, he was also a member of the Culture, Media & Sport select committee which held hearings into privacy and the press in 2003 a few days after Whittamore’s arrest.

And, to cap it all, one of those who appeared before him was Piers Morgan, editor of the very newspaper that had targeted him …  

 ♦♦♦

PIERS MORGAN was summoned to appear before the Culture, Media & Sport select committee in March 2003.

Also appearing on the same day were his friends Rebekah Brooks (then using her maiden name Wade) and Andy Coulson.

Brooks had been appointed Sun editor the previous January and Coulson had slipped into her role at the News of the World.

Even though they edited papers with a greater circulation, Piers Morgan was the senior member of the troika.

Morgan first met Coulson while he was running the celebrity column “Bizarre” for The Sun in the late 1980s.

When Morgan was appointed News of the World editor in 1994, Coulson took over “Bizarre”.

EDITORIAL BEDFELLOWS THREE EDITORS of the News of the World at a party in 2004 — Piers Morgan, Rebekah Wade and current post-holder Andy Coulson. All were having affairs. During their phone hacking trial at the Old Baily, it was revealed that Brooks and Coulson had been sleeping together since 1998. At the time she was married to Eastenders actor Ross Kemp and Coulson to the woman who is still his wife. Piers Morgan was also "having a few problems" in his marriage and would later divorce ...  Photo: Richard Young / REX

EDITORIAL BEDFELLOWS
THREE EDITORS of the News of the World at a party in 2004 — Piers Morgan, Rebekah Wade and the then post-holder Andy Coulson. All were having affairs. During their phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey, it was revealed that Brooks and Coulson hadn’t just been putting their papers to bed — they’d been bedding each other since 1998. At the time she was married to EastEnders actor Ross Kemp and Coulson was also married. Piers Morgan was “having a few problems” in his marriage and would later divorce …
Photo: Richard Young / REX

Rebekah Brooks was a journalist on the News of the World when Morgan took over the paper in 1994.

He quickly gave her first promotion — to features editor. 

His endorsement meant she would have come to the attention of Rupert Murdoch himself.

♦♦♦

THREE DAYS before the Culture committee was due to meet, private eye Steve Whittamore was arrested.

A lucrative enterprise came to an abrupt halt — affecting the papers edited by Morgan, Brooks and Coulson.

Right up until his arrest on the Saturday morning, Whittamore had been working for all three.

By Monday morning at the latest, the Mirror news desk would have learnt one of their major sources of illegal material was out of business.

It would later emerge that the Information Commissioner’s Office analysis of Whittamore’s “Red Book” established that 47 Daily Mirror journalists had made requests from the private eye.

684 of these requests were unlawful.

One of the 47 journalists was Tom Newton Dunn.

According to our source “Trinity”, he was responsible for more than 50 requests.

GARY JONES ANOTHER MIRROR journalist whose name appears in the "Red Book" is Gary Jones, the current Daily Mirror executive editor. He will play a major part in later sections of the Press Gang investigation into Piers Morgan.

GARY JONES
CURRENT EXECUTIVE editor of the Daily Mirror, Gary Jones is another  journalist who appears in the “Red Book”.  His name is on more than 150 requests recorded by private eye Steve Whittamore. Jones was one of Piers Morgan’s key lieutenants in the paper’s “dark arts” operations — and plays a major part in later sections of A Pretty Despicable Man

These included obtaining ex-directory numbers — an offence under the Data Protection Act.

His name is also down on orders for tracing the owners of cars.

A more detailed analysis of the “Red Book”, carried out by ITV News in 2012, concluded that the number of illegal orders was actually 984.

It was big business.

ITV News estimated the Daily Mirror spent over £92,000 on Whittamore’s services over a period of several years.

The News of the World was another customer.

It already employed another private eye — Glenn Mulcaire, later gaoled in the phone-hacking scandal — on an exclusive contract worth £100,000 a year.

But the News of the World also used Whittamore from time to time.

His “Blue Book”— concerned with requests from the Sunday tabloid — listed 23 journalists who spent more than £23,000 on obtaining unlawful information.

One of those named was Rebekah Brooks.

For most of the years these requests were being made, Brooks was News of the World editor and Coulson her deputy.

Whittamore  — he would later liken himself to “Oliver” working for the Fleet Street “Fagin” — was also working for other papers.

They included the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, The Sun and even The Times.

The scale of Whittamore’s operations begs the question:

how could Morgan, Brooks and Coulson not have known about the private detective’s arrest as they made their way to the Palace of Westminster for the Culture committee hearing on Tuesday, March 11?

♦♦♦

PIERS MORGAN was the first of the tabloid trio to appear before the committee.

If he was aware a criminal provider of information to his paper had just been arrested, he didn’t show it.

He was confident, cocky and combative.

Morgan insisted press standards had improved:

“I have worked in Fleet Street for 15 years, I have never known standards to be higher than they are today.”

“When I came into Fleet Street the atmosphere was pretty lawless, I would say, pretty lawless.”

“As a young journalist on The Sun, for example, I was not really instructed how to behave, what to do.”

“I could really act with impunity.”

Morgan defended the Press Complaints Commission.

Morgan was unimpressed with the testimony of ordinary people who told the committee they were unhappy about the way they’d been treated by the media.

MIRROR, MIRROR THERE ARE two faces to Piers Morgan's comments about phone hacking and the other "dark arts" of illegal news-gathering. Throughout the early stages of the scandal, he was happy to give the impression most newspapers were involved. But as soon as senior figures in the Murdoch empire began to be arrested, he changed his tune. Now he claims he knew nothing about unlawful practices at the Daily Mirror ...         Photo: PA

MIRROR, MIRROR
THERE ARE two faces to Piers Morgan’s comments about phone hacking and the other “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering. Throughout the early stages of the scandal, he was happy to give the impression most newspapers were involved. But as soon as senior figures in the Murdoch empire began to be arrested, he changed his tune. Now he claims he knew nothing about unlawful practices at the Daily Mirror
Photo: PA

He told Chris Bryant that if people wrote to him:

“… I deal with it seriously and properly.”

“We go and get to the bottom of what the allegation is and if I discover that people have been trampling wilfully on people’s privacy, believe me, there are massive inquests in our newspaper.”

When it came to Adrian Flook’s turn to ask questions, he followed up this response:

“Can you give us an example of the last massive inquest?”

Morgan changed the subject and didn’t answer the question.

♦♦♦

LATER THAT morning, Brooks and Coulson appeared before the committee.

The two tabloid bosses were well-briefed and well-supported.

“They had many advisers with them and were treating the session with a lot of care,” remembers Adrian Flook.

But, out of the blue, the two editors faced a dangerous line of questioning from Labour’s Chris Bryant:

“There have been a series of stories over the past couple of years suggesting that The Sun, The Mirror, The Express, the News of the World, use private detectives, pay people to provide them with information which they should not legally have, pay the police to make sure they know things before they are rightfully public.”

“In the case of Sarah Payne, The Sun, The Mirror and The Express all paid £5,000 to somebody to steal sensitive documents and sell them to their newspaper.”

He then asked:

“Do either of your newspapers ever use private detectives, ever bug or pay the police?”

When Rebekah Brooks didn’t answer the question clearly, he tried again:

“And on the element of whether you ever pay the police for information?”

She replied:

“We have paid the police for information in the past”.

MEA CULPA REBEKAH BROOKS made the damaging admission that she'd paid police for information in the past when she appeared before the Culrure, Media & Sport select committee. PHOTO: PA

MEA CULPA
REBEKAH BROOKS made the damaging admission that she’d paid police for information in the past when she appeared before the Culture, Media & Sport select committee. She was cleared of all charges at the hacking trial earlier this year.
Photo: PA

Bryant followed up:

“And will you do it in the future?”

Rebekah Brooks started her answer but was interrupted by Coulson.

She only got as far as:

“It depends — “

when he interrupted:

“We operate within the [Press Complaints Commission] code and within the law — and if there is a clear public interest, then we will.”

Bryant sprang the trap:

“It’s illegal for police officers to receive payments.”

Coulson repeated:

“No. I just said, within the law.”

The exchange was brought to an end by committee chairman Gerald Kaufman.

But the damage had been done.

CHRIS BRYANT THE MP's questioning led to Rebekah Brooks admitting that she had paid police officers for information — a criminal offence. Photo: PA

CHRIS BRYANT
THE MP’s questioning led to Rebekah Brooks admitting that she had paid police officers for information — a criminal offence. It was later revealed that his phone had been hacked by the News of the World: he received £40,000 in damages.
Photo: PA

Brooks had admitted what many had long suspected: some newspapers paid police officers for valuable information.

Piers Morgan, a former Murdoch loyalist with stints on The Sun and a short period as News of the World editor, was in no doubt about the seriousness of the mistake.

In his 2006 memoirs The Insider he wrote:

… Rebekah excelled herself by virtually admitting she’s been illegally paying policemen for information.”

“I called to thank her for dropping the tabloid baton at the last minute.”

“She apologised:

“That’s why I should never be seen or heard in public,” she told him.

There has been speculation among investigative journalists that Brooks made her admission because she knew about Whittamore’s arrest.

And feared the committee had also got wind of it.

Was she trying to get an admission in before a committee member could make an accusation?

If so, she didn’t realise she had confessed to a criminal offence.

And why did Piers Morgan accuse her of “dropping the tabloid baton”?

Was it because he knew the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering were rife and that his own Daily Mirror was paying police for information?

Was it because he’d been one of the trail-blazers back in 1994 when he paid an enormous sum of money for an explosive police report about Princess Diana?

♦♦♦

IN 1994 the News of the World gained access to a police investigation into anonymous phone calls made by Princess Diana.

She’d been ringing a close friend of Prince Charles called Oliver Hoare.

The editor at the time was Piers Morgan.

He tells the story of what happened in his memoirs, The Insider.

In August 1994 news editor Alex Marunchak and chief crime reporter Gary Jones walked into Morgan’s office at the News of the World.

Gary Jones said:

“Got rather a big one here, boss. Diana’s a phone pest.”

PRINCESS DIANA IN 1994 the News of World paid a huge sum of money for a confidential police report into anonymous phone calls being made by the Princess.  Photo: PA

“PHONE PEST”
IN 1994 the News of the World paid a huge sum of money for a confidential police report into anonymous phone calls being made by the Princess. The editor was Piers Morgan …
Photo: PA

“The cops are investigating hundreds of calls she has made to a married art dealer called Oliver Hoare.”

When Morgan asked what the evidence was, Jones replied:

“Here’s a read-out from the police report.”

A source who had a copy of the report had read it over the phone and a reporter had taken a shorthand record of it.

The police report revealed that Hoare had received hundreds of silent, anonymous phone calls.

He called the police and BT traced the calls to Kensington Palace, the home of Princess Diana.

When police told Hoare, he said that he and his wife were friends of Charles and Diana.

He had been, in the words of the police report, “consoling her and becoming quite close to her” after her separation from Charles.

When the paper put it to Hoare, he declined to comment.

He did not deny there had been an investigation.

The News of the World ran the story over the front page and four inside pages.

The article had the by-lines of Gary Jones and Clive Goodman.

(Clive Goodman was the paper’s royal correspondent.

More than a decade later, in 2007, he and the paper’s private investigator Glenn Mulcaire would be gaoled for illegally hacking into the mobile phones of Princes William and Harry.)

The level of detail in the News of the World article was extraordinary.

It reported that Oliver Hoare went to the police in October 1993.

Detectives contacted British Telecom’s specialist Nuisance Calls Bureau who provided Hoare with a special code to allow BT to trace calls.

The first time this code was used was 13 January 1994.

This was the News of the World account of some of the six silent calls which came from phone lines used by the Princess on that first day:

8.45am: The phone rings and there is silence at the other end.

Oliver [Hoare] activates the tracing equipment for the first time.

It finds the source is a private number used by Prince Charles.

8.49am: Second call is made.

Oliver repeatedly asks: “Hello, hello, who’s there?”

“Who’s there?”

There’s no response.

The call is traced to another number — Princess Diana’s private line.

The reporters are told that the problem is passed on to Commander Robert Marsh, head of the Met’s Royalty Protection Squad.

Marsh then briefs a senior Home Office politician who alerts the Royal Household.

The calls come to an end.

♦♦♦

BUT DIANA immediately denied the story — and the next day, Monday, the Daily Mail published a long interview with her.

“I feel I am being destroyed,” she said.

“There is absolutely no truth in it.”

An anxious Piers Morgan was up early that day and, having read the Daily Mail interview, rang news editor Alex Marunchak at seven in the morning.

Marunchak tried to calm his worried editor:

“We’ve had the report read to us: she’s lying.”

But Morgan remained concerned.

He wrote in his diary:

“we can’t reveal this fact without potentially exposing our source, so where does that leave us?”

“And what if the report is a forgery?”

“I felt sick to the pit of my stomach.”

“I couldn’t eat or even drink a cup of tea. It was hellish.”

The News of the World was already getting calls from other newspapers asking if Morgan was going to resign.

But there was to be an extraordinary intervention.

Morgan was in the shower later that morning when his wife told him Rupert Murdoch was on the phone.

Morgan thought he was going to be fired.

RUPERT MURDOCH RANG HIS worried editor and told him the Princess Diana story was true. Just how he knew has never been revealed ...  Photo: PA

RUPERT MURDOCH
RANG HIS worried editor from the United States and told him the Princess Diana story was true. Just how he knew has never been revealed … but likely candidates include Number 10, the Home Office or the Metropolitan Police.
Photo: PA

“Hi Piers,” said Murdoch, “I can’t really talk for long but I just wanted you to know that your story is one hundred per cent bang on.”

“Can’t tell you how I know, but I just know.”

“So get on TV and tell the world she’s a liar.”

“Then say we’re running another great load of great stuff about it next week. OK?”

A relieved Morgan told him they didn’t have anything else on the story.

Murdoch said:

“Oh, you will have by Sunday — don’t worry. Gotta go. Good luck.”

Morgan went on the offensive and it soon became clear that the story was true.

But the next day, the focus switched to the source of the News of the World story.

“Everyone seemed to be blaming the police,” Morgan wrote in The Insider, “so I issued a statement saying it was categorically not a serving police officer, which is perfectly true.”

The following Sunday’s paper led with the story that Diana’s former lover James Hewitt had also received “cranky” calls from her.

Reporter Gary Jones went on to win the Press Gazette Reporter of the Year Award in 1995 for his work at the News of the World, including the exclusive about Diana’s anonymous calls.

When Piers Morgan was appointed editor of the Daily Mirror in 1995, Gary Jones soon followed.

At the paper, he became a major customer of private eye Steve Whittamore.

Today, he’s the Executive Editor of the Daily Mirror.

♦♦♦

LAST NIGHT Piers Morgan was busy on his Twitter account.

He has more than 4 million followers on the social media site.

We asked him to get in touch with us so we could give him the opportunity to reply to the allegations made in this article.

He didn’t reply.

UNDER FIRE PIERS MORGAN'S insistence he knew nothing about illegal activities during his nine years at the Mirror is  Photo: PA.

UNDER FIRE
PIERS MORGAN’S insistence he knew nothing about illegal activities during his nine years at the Mirror is slowly unravelling. He was questioned under caution by police last year. On Friday the Mirror group finally conceded some of the stories that appeared during his editorship were likely to have been the result of phone hacking and the “blagging” of personal information. The group has set aside £10 million to settle scores of legal actions against the Daily Mirror, People and Sunday Mirror — and last month paid substantial sums to a clutch of celebrities including Sven-Goran Eriksson. More cases are in the pipeline.  Operation Golding, the Metropolitan Police investigation into the Mirror group, has seen several arrests…
Photo: PA.

We asked Paul Vickers, Group Legal Director of the company which owns the Daily Mirror, if it 

— knew about Tom Newton Dunn’s involvement with Steve Whittamore

— knew about the large number of orders Whittamore received from current Executive Editor Gary Jones

— and if the company would suspend Jones pending an internal investigation.

Vickers told us last night:

“We have no comment to make.”

We also tried to get in touch with  Tom Newton Dunn.

As political editor of The Sun, he’s one of Britain’s most powerful journalists.

We sent a message via Twitter but he never replied.

We also contacted The Sun.

We asked if the paper if it was confident Newton Dunn had not broken the law in his news-gathering at The Sun after he joined in 2003.

We asked if there would be an internal investigation  — and if  Newton Dunn would be suspended pending the result of any such investigation.

There was no reply by the time this article was posted.

The Sun recently suspended reporter Mazher Mahmood after a judge accused him of lying during the Tulisa Contostavlos trial.

We also wrote to private eye Steve Whittamore.  

He didn’t reply.

♦♦♦

GANGBUSTERS WANTED

THERE’S AN old saying: “dog doesn’t eat dog” — reporters shouldn’t tell tales on colleagues. This is especially true of Piers Morgan who has formidable ties to much of Britain’s media. He’s friendly with his old mentor Rupert Murdoch which means the Times, Sun and Sunday Times won’t criticise him. The Mirror group — the Daily Mirror, The People and the Sunday Mirror — are unlikely to investigate because he worked for them. He’s now joined the Daily Mail online operation as US “Editor-at-Large” while his wife Celia Walden is a columnist with the Daily Telegraph. He currently presents Piers Morgan’s Life Stories for ITV and has worked for Channel 4 in the past. This partly explains why he’s escaped serious scrutiny up to now. Help Press Gang redress the balance by becoming a gangbuster: just hit the button …

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♦♦♦

COMING UP IN PART TWO:
ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

THE “DARK ARTS” were practised on an industrial scale at the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan was in the editor’s chair. An extraordinary example took place in 1998 when the paper ordered private eyes to break into the mortgage accounts of every member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. A Pretty Despicable Man continues with a revealing analysis of the paper’s cynical bank jobs…

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.